We are now through the second week of the regular season. It’s time to reflect on the week the was.
Game 4: Debacle against the Desert dogs. 4-2 Loss
Well where to begin. This was a game that got off to what could have been a promising start when the Leafs got a power just 34 seconds into the game. However, this was the worst thing that could have happened. It sputtered at best and was disjointed and was all for not. This is what became the theme of the night. To quote Sheldon Keefe “it lulled Toronto to sleep”. The team as a whole were flat and lacked any energy. And as only seemed fitting former Leaf Nick Ritchie notched the opening goal of the game on an Arizona power play. Things just progressed down hill from there for the buds. The Coyotes doubled the lead mid way through the second courtesy of a goal from Christian Fischer.
The Leafs showed some life in the third when William Nylander scored his third of the season on the power play. That was followed up less then a minute later by Mitch Marner netting his first of the season to tie it up. It stayed this way until Shane Gostisbehere scored on a power play with only 93 seconds left in the third period. The Leafs thought they had tied it up when Kerfoot scored shortly there after but that was called back after a lengthy review by the officials as they deemed it a hand pass by Morgan Rielly. The Yotes would add an empty net goal with only 11 seconds left to put the nail in the coffin of the game.
Game 5: Nick vs Jason. 3-2 OT Win
The battle of the brothers Robertson took place Thursday night at the SBA and it did not disappoint. This game was a chippy affair as there was a parade to the penalty box in this match up. The game was a back and fourth bout that seen the Stars get on the board first thanks to a goal from Luke Glendening at the 14:45 mark of the first period. The score remained this way until 2:31 into the second when Alex Kerfoot netted one on the power play to finally be credited with his first official goal of the season to tie it up at one a piece. No one else hit the score sheet offensively until 1:59 into the third period when Nick Robertson snapped a beauty pasted Scott Wedgewood to put Toronto up 2-1. The Stars Tyler Seguin tied it up at a pair on yet another controversial reviewed play. It appeared as if Seguin had made contact with Marner forcing him into Samsonov. The officials deemed it a no goal originally. However, after a lengthy review the call was overturned and it was ruled a good goal. This game would end up going to over time and just after Leaf power play expired Nick Robertson makes a good defensive play to break up an offensive opportunity for Dallas which turned into a 3 on 1 for Toronto back the other way where Nicky Bobby himself finishes off the game with a wicked one timer set up by Matthews to end it and give the Leafs a much need 3-2 OT win. This chapter of the battle of the Robertson brothers went to the younger sibling Nick with his 2 goal performance.
Game 6: Grounding Jets. 4-1 Win
This had all the makes for a spirited affair before the line ups were announced. This was the first game against the Jets since last season when Neal Pionk ended Ramus Sandin’s season with a knee on knee hit. This game was definitely circled on the calendar and Sheldon Keefe made it abundantly clear when he unveiled his lineup he was prepared for a hard nosed affair on Saturday night. He had scratched both Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Pierre Engvall to make room for the hard hitting veterans Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford. This match up did not disappoint and by far was the best and most complete game the Maple Leafs have played to this point this season.
The Jets were first to get one on the board thanks to Pierre-Luc Dobois scoring on his on rebound. However the Leafs would get a power play marker just over five minutes later from their Captain John Tavares to knot it all up at one a piece. Midway through the second period the fourth line contributed but not in the way normally expect as Wayne Simmonds pulls off a beauty between the leg pass to his center David Kampf which he bulges twine to get his second of the season and put Toronto up 2-1. Things got really greasy from this point on. After a hard hit by Josh Morrissey on Nick Robertson, Morgan Rielly steps up to the youngsters defense and drops the gloves for a scrap with the Jets defensemen. Another skirmish ensued after a hard hit on Sandin, this lead to the Leafs getting another power play opportunity as Michael Bunting and Brenden Dillion go off for offsetting unsportmanlike penalties as well as Pierre-Luc Dubois for roughing Toronto capitalizes just 42 seconds into a late second period power play once again Leafs captain gets a piece of an Auston Matthews shot to redirect it past the Hellebuyck to extend the lead to 3-1 for Toronto. Michael Bunting added an empty netter late in the third period to rub a little salt in the wound to cap off the scoring for a 4-1 final.
The Wrap up
Although the week started off with an absolutely horrendous performance against Arizona, the Maple Leafs really turned it back around thanks on a big part to Ilya Samsonov standing tall between the pipes. The Leafs goaltender is now 4-0 in this young season and shows to be getting better and better each game. Also the youngster Robertson looked fantastic in both games he’s appeared in for the buds this season. He’s come out flying and has 2 goals to show for so far. Tavares has looked great and seems to be fully healthy for the first time in over a calendar year and adding Robertson to the second line has made it that much more dynamic. I was impressed with the snarl Rielly has shown this week especially on Saturday against the Jets although you would’ve thought with Simmer and Clifford dress it would have been one of them to drop the gloves that night instead it was the leader of the back end answer that call. This game could be the turning point for the Maple Leafs as this was decisively their best game so far. Time will tell if that is the case.
The Maple Leafs continue their west coast trip tonight against the Golden Knights in Las Vegas and It appears as head coach Keefe is going to ice the same line up that earned the victory Saturday in Winnipeg. Toronto will then have a couple days off before heading to San Jose on Thursday and a tough back to back in California this weekend to wrap it up with dates with the Kings on Saturday and then over to Anaheim on Sunday to face the Ducks.